Snow White and the Huntsman isn’t your grandmother’s fairy tale. The damsel isn’t in distress, the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) actually has a backstory, and the prince isn’t so charming. Sam Claflin plays William, nobleman and childhood friend of Snow White (Kristen Stewart). After being separated as kids, he becomes obsessed with avenging “her death.” Discovering she’s alive, he makes it a point to save her from the evil Queen (Charlize Theron). ScreenCrave recently spoke to Claflin about his take on the romanticized hero and how this film turns it on its head. There’s less wooing and more fighting!
Check out our interview below…
Snow White and the Huntsman’s Prince William is no pretty boy. He’s a fighter with a rebellious spirit. But he didn’t start out that way. The character went through many changes over the course of the film’s development.
Sam Claflin: He was a little, excuse the expression, but he was a little wet. He was very straight-laced and he didn’t really have a backbone. And it was something that was quite important to me — especially to compete for the attention of Snow White – you have to be a bit of a man. I think progressively both me and the director were very much going in the same direction. And were on the same page and therefore we ended up with the character that you see before you.
Despite the macho makeover, we wondered if Claflin thought William had any classic Prince Charming qualities.
SC: He’s loyal. A bit too loyal [laughs]. I think he does everything in his power to find the girl he loved. He’s a good guy. There’s not one bad bone in his body. Maybe a touch of jealousy. He doesn’t really have the opportunity to be charming necessarily. At no point does he sort of woo someone into bed, or need to. He’s kind of got other things on his mind. I think there are qualities but not the classic charm.
Since Snow White and William were separated as children, they have a complicated relationship. They’ve changed dramatically since the last time they saw each other. When it comes to their feelings, there are many shades of gray.
SC: It’s kind of a friendship, I guess. When they were kids, you sort of say, ‘Oh my God, I’m so in love with you’ and you’re like 14. You don’t really understand. I think in his head, he hasn’t forgiven himself. I think he blames himself for having lost her. For thinking that she was dead. So when he hears that she’s alive he does everything in his power to get her back. Or to basically save her and redeem himself. I think he obviously loves her. How she feels about him, I don’t really know.
In the film, the romantic aspect of Snow White’s story is understated. She cares about both William and the Huntsman and vice versa, but it seems purposely ambiguous.
SC: There have been so many different versions of the script. How it initially started was the Huntsman was going to be older, and it was more of a father-daughter relationship… And it was always much more of a romantic vibe between Prince William and Snow White. Impressively, I think what Chris [Hemsworth] had brought in is the fact that he is very young and he’s bloody good-looking. I think progressively we kind of built it around what he brought to the character.
When William and the Huntsman finally meet, there’s a tinge of jealousy on both their parts. But the film didn’t want to spend too much time on it. The characters had bigger fish to fry.
SC: There were other scenes that were filmed that didn’t make the final cut. There was much more of a friction between the two guys to begin with… There was a little fight between the two of us. Nothing major. There was a lot more friction and a lot more jealousy on both of their parts. I think the film didn’t need that. And I don’t think we wanted to waste time telling that story when there’s a bigger story to be told.
So does Claflin think Prince William and the Huntsman are more similar than different?
SC: There are a lot of similarities. There are also a lot of differences. Obviously the fact that they’re both men of a physical nature, is something they have in common. But at the same time, I’m sort of from royalty, the upper class. And he’s from the dregs. He’s also lost a wife. So it’s about middle of the road.
In some of the early promo art for Snow White and the Huntsman, William was shown with a sword and battle armor. Yet, in the film a bow and arrow is his weapon of choice. We asked Claflin about the last minute change.
SC: I just turned up to my first stunt rehearsal and they were like, ‘We’re gonna change your character up.’ Because obviously during those pictures, I was clean-shaven and [had] very slicked back hair. I think throughout the process, slowly but surely my character was the one — mine and the Huntsman character — kept changing because of the relationship between the Huntsman and Snow White. So mine had to mold into wherever. He needs to be able to compete with this guy. People need to believe that he is the prince for her. The true love. He needs to be able to compete, therefore the fighting element got bigger and bigger. The bow and arrow was a very last minute decision. I think they just wanted to do something new, however when we started filming we didn’t really realize The Avengers with Hawkeye and Katniss Everdeen [The Hunger Games], and Brave. It literally is the weapon of choice of the year. Of the summer [laughs]!
On screen, Claflin comes across as a master archer, but he admits it wasn’t all him. He got a lot of help from the special effects people who made sure he hit every target.
SC: I basically spent ages and ages training. But a lot of the arrows were CGI. I’m not that good. It would probably take years to get that good. But I think in the end, the CGI, the special effects guys did such a fantastic job of making it look as real as possible.
With most action films, the actors have to get in superb shape before filming. And Claflin was no exception. He hit the gym and got buff, but quickly discovered that there was an error in his training.
SC: They made me go to the gym to buff up… They were like we’d like to get you into the gym with a personal trainer. That again, is another dream come true. You’re getting paid to go to the gym. As opposed to paying ridiculous amounts to just be a member. So I was going to the gym, going to the gym. I’d been going for months and built up hugely. And then we had a pre-production party and the director Rupert [Sanders] came up to me and went, ‘You’re looking a bit too big. Weren’t you meant to be losing weight?’ I was like, ‘What? You guys have had me on this plan for like two months.’ I think that’s the fittest I’d ever been during that film.
And we can tell! Check out Claflin and the rest of the cast in Snow White and the Huntsman, when it opens June 1.